Commodore Díaz Escrich grew up in Santiago de Cuba. His father, a yacht club member, served in the US Navy, and his love for things nautical greatly influenced his son, José Miguel. Growing up, young Díaz Escrich knew he wanted to become a naval officer, but those not yet 18 years old did not get into the Cuban Naval Academy. Instead, at age 16, Escrich joined his country’s Army, hoping eventually to gain acceptance into the Naval Academy. After graduation, he worked his way up the ranks to Commander of an anti-submarine ship. He returned to the classroom in the former Soviet Union. Returning to Cuba, he worked in Naval Base Operations, focusing on international maritime and legal issues.
Díaz Escrich had a vision: to develop the recreational boating industry in Cuba. He became a consultant for nautical tourism and proposed founding a new yacht club at Marina Hemingway. At the time, all Cuban yacht clubs were closed. There had been many clubs prior to 1960, but the perception of them as elitist, exclusionary organizations of wealthy capitalists made the creation of a new one difficult. Nevertheless, with great effort, Díaz Escrich was able to clear the way to open the first post- revolutionary yacht club in Cuba.
The area where the marina and yacht club now stand was originally developed in the late 1950’s as residential and recreational facilities. Where the boatyard now stands, a naval base for torpedo boats was established. With the Russians in retreat, the Cuban government approved new investment laws to develop tourism and started removing the warships. Cubanacan, a tourism holding company, was founded in 1987 and given the land. Marina Hemingway was established, there but the campaign to promote marine tourism had just begun.
Though it would seem a natural development to have a yacht club in a tourist complex on the water, it took until 1992 for the club to open. That day boasted 28 members from 10 countries. The second year, membership climbed to 150, representing 23 countries. Currently, there are over 1,600 members from 45 countries.
Díaz Escrich serves not only as Commodore, but also as Cuba’s goodwill ambassador to
recreational boaters, internationally and locally. He offers his professional background and experience to guide the effort for growth and development.